We use the words “life on life discipleship” a lot around here, and for good reason! We genuinely believe that this is the method and model Jesus used to shape and equip his followers. Through life-on-life discipleship and the work of the Spirit, Jesus empowered his disciples to change the world.
Today, life-on-life looks a little different. It’s not practical for everyone to lead a group of disciples who live and travel with them all the time.
On the other hand, limiting ourselves to doing life-on-life during a weekly or bi-weekly small group is also problematic. If you truly want to share our lives with others, we need to invite them in more than just during a Bible study.
More often than not, when we spend time with others we try to present the best version of ourselves. We’ve showered, dressed nicely, cleaned the house, and so on. But doing life-on-life means sharing all aspects of your life – it isn’t always perfect and that’s ok! Sharing those imperfect moments with others can provide some of the most valuable learning opportunities imaginable.
In this article, we’ll share 11 different opportunities to do life-on-life discipleship outside of your standard group meeting times.
1) Host them for dinner
Jesus frequently shared meals with his disciples, followers, and even the Pharisees and Tax Collectors. There is something special about sharing a meal with someone, it builds trust and draws people together.
If you want to do life-on-life discipleship with someone, invite them over for dinner. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a special and formal occasion. The best way to do life-on-life is to invite them over for a normal night – let them join your family and see how you actually live. Better yet, make it a regular occurrence if you can.
If you have a family with young kids, this could be chaotic, but that’s ok! If you’re discipling someone, it will be a blessing to see how you speak to your children, pray together, and eat together.
2) Attend Sporting Events
Being outside at a park and watching a game together provides a great opportunity for bonding, conversations, and doing life together. Most sports fans love to go to professional sporting events with other adults, so why not share that with them?
But it’s not just about professional sports. If you disciple someone who plays sports or has kids who play, why not show up to one of their games and cheer for them? It means a lot when people (other than your direct family) show up to sporting events.
3) Run Errands Together
When most people think of going shopping with friends, they think of trying on clothes or checking out the latest fishing gear. This can certainly be a great way to do life-on-life, but it’s also sometimes a shinier version of the real shopping most of us need to do.
If you want to spend time with someone but have a lot of errands to run, then invite them along! Great conversations happen while shopping for groceries, grabbing diapers, and selecting plants for your yard in the spring. You might even have time to grab a coffee or food together.
We drive everywhere in the United States. In fact, the US Department of Transportation found that we average about 1 hour in the car everyday. Imagine if you spent some of that time with another person?
Time in the car provides great opportunities for conversation. If you cannot carpool, then perhaps you can use the opportunity to call people who you have a discipleship relationship with. One 30 minute conversation per week can transform a relationship more than you can imagine.
5) Go on a Walk
Getting outside and going for a walk clears your mind and provides new energy. It is a welcome break from screens, chores, and every kind of labor. Going on a walk with someone else provides excellent time and space to have deep conversations.
Something special happens when we move outside. It creates bonds and memories and opens us up to talk about the things that really matter. Whether you go on a walk after lunch with co-workers, walk in the park with your kids, or go on a hike with your discipleship group you will benefit from the light exercise, conversations, and time outside.
6) Attend Corporate Worship Together
Going to church is a great way to worship God corporately and connect with other believers. If you have a life-on-life discipleship relationship with someone, why not sit with them on a regular basis during worship services? Most of us tend to sit in the same area anyway, so this is an easy way to spend extra time with someone you’re mentoring.
Not only that, but worshiping God with others is a powerful way to encourage each other and remind us about the importance of our faith. When we sing to God and listen to His word next to those we care about, it automatically adds a layer of accountability to help us apply what we’ve learned.
7) Lunch After Church
Growing up, my family went to lunch with 2-3 other families almost every Sunday after church. I was able to watch my parents develop relationships with other adults, and as I grew older I learned how to interact with other adults as well. Over the years, these relationships grew extremely strong and more and more valuable.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be a fancy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You could do that, or you could go with fast food. You could have a picnic at the local park, or you could invite people to your home. The key is to figure out how to make it simple and affordable enough to do it on a regular basis so you can truly build deeper relationships.
8) Travel Together
Going on vacations or traveling with someone is a great way to build stronger relationships. For a whole weekend or week (or month even!) you get to truly do life-on-life with others. Vacations often bring out the best in us, but they can also be challenging (especially when we get tired and hungry). Experiencing the highs and lows are what life-on-life discipleship is all about.
Traveling together can be a vacation, but it can also take other shapes. Attending a church retreat with your discipleship group, going on a short-term mission trip, or visiting a mutual friend who moved away are all great excuses to travel together and experience some extended life-on-life time.
9) Invite them to stay or live with you
This one is a much bigger commitment than some of the others and may or may not be possible or wise in your current situation. If you truly want to go full-time life-on-life with someone, then consider inviting them to stay with you or even move in with you.
Maybe you’re single and you need a roommate in your apartment, maybe you’re an empty nester and you have extra rooms available in your house that you would love to fill, or maybe you have been blessed with a larger home and can welcome in a family in need. Whatever the case, living with someone provides extensive opportunities for life-on-life discipleship.
This doesn’t have to be a permanent thing either, sometimes people just need a place to stay for a few days or weeks while they travel or work to get on their feet.
10) Go to Work
The disciples spent time with Jesus like it was their full-time job, and today full-time work is one of our biggest time consumers. Our jobs often get the majority of our waking hours and occur when we’re our sharpest.
Is there someone at work you can mentor? This could be a spiritual mentorship, or it could be a way for you to mentor someone professionally (which can often lead to spiritual mentorship). Can you start a Bible study at work? Can you do your job to the glory of God? For the Believer, all of life belongs to God, and that includes work.
11) Invite Them into the Mess
Ultimately, life on life discipleship is not about showing someone how perfect our lives are. It is about showing them how we handle all of life, and that includes the mess. God called us out of darkness while we were still sinners, and all of our confidence rests in Him.
We don’t have to lead perfect lives to share them with others. We don’t have to polish ourselves before we disciple someone else. We need to rest in the completed work of Christ, trusting Him to continue to shape our hearts, and invite others in.
Life on life discipleship is just that – Believers in Jesus sharing their lives with others. A weekly discipleship group is a great place to share life together, but it’s also just the beginning. There are countless opportunities to invite others into a life-on-life relationship, and we hope this article has sparked your imagination.
To learn more about life on life discipleship and how we work with churches around the world to ignite missional discipleship movements around the world, then contact us today or join an upcoming Information call.